Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: from diagnosis to therapy

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Purpose of review

Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare but challenging disease for intensive care specialists. Patients with acute TTP frequently require admission to the intensive care unit because of organ dysfunctions due to the disease or because of the risk of sudden aggravation at the onset of the disease. This review aims at describing recent evolutions in the diagnosis and for the management of TTP for the use of intensive care specialists.

Recent findings

The use of A Disintegrin and Metalloprotease with ThromboSpondin type 1 repeats (ADAMTS13) activity along with clinico-biological features to define TTP by most researchers’ teams has led to easier interpretation of the literature. The main issues in TTP treatment in 2015 remain the indication and timing of introduction of anti-CD20 antibody rituximab for the treatment of inaugural TTP and the preemptive use of rituximab in asymptomatic patients with decreasing ADAMTS13 activity.


The classification of thrombotic microangiopathies has evolved from a clinical to a pathophysiological definition. TTP is characterized by a severe ADAMTS13 deficiency that can be documented in vitro, along with anti-ADAMTS13 antibodies in most adult cases. Plasmapheresis and immunosuppressive therapy with steroids remain the standard of care for acute inaugural TTP. Anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab is safe and indicated in relapsing and/or refractory TTP. Its indication in inaugural TTP remains to be evaluated but is nevertheless recommended by experts. Novel therapies for TTP are still in preclinical phases.

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